There’s always a point of time when an important piece of our lives flicker to an end. For example, Thanks to digital technology; Newspapers are in the process of going from total print to completely digital. People are now involving from purchasing CD’s to online digital streaming of music. My generation, the Millennial Generation has done the same thing from focusing on everything that is on our phones and what we can post on Facebook or Instagram; rather than just going out and exploring life without our digital devices. Just like our predecessors before us have done. The same thing is happening to the arts as well. There is a rise in performing arts and still-art Non-Profit interest for jobs but not nearly enough jobs out there to handle such demand due to the decrease of patrons in these organizations. Which brings the subject to one dying art that is on the way to become a Phoenix. Opera.
Los Angeles Opera, has ended their 2016 season with their golden baton for our generation. Their final production, La Boheme by Giaccomo Puccini; a story that has inspired many artist and composers to re-tell in different forms. Millennials, The Musical ‘Rent’ is our inspired source, along with the famous TV show ‘Friends’. The production was performed by a chorus and principal cast of 99% percent being born in the millennial generation including the conductor of the LA Opera making her own LA Opera conducting debut, Speranza Scappucci.
On a recent interview with Italo-Americano.org; Speranza spoke about her upbringing in the arts and coming to Los Angeles working with Placido Domingo and James Conlon.
“Maestro, how and when did your passion for classical music develop?
Speranza Scappucci: I have been exposed to music since when I was born. My parents are huge music lovers and made me take music lessons since the age of 4 and a half!
You studied in two of the best academies in the world, at Santa Cecilia in Rome and Juilliard in New York. What are the main differences between them? And how did you like these experiences?
Speranza Scappucci: I owe who I am today as a musician to both institutions equally. Without a solid background like the one I had in Rome – not only in piano, but also in chamber music, harmony, music history etc. – I wouldn’t have entered Juilliard and been able to attend the greatest music school in the World, where I developed my skills even more and expanded my horizons!
Are being a pianist and conductor two complementary sides of your artistic personality? Do you have an inclination towards one or the other?
Speranza Scappucci: As a conductor, I think it is fundamental to play an instrument, and of course the piano is the most complete instrument of all. Playing the piano allows me not only to be able to sit and read and play a full score in its complete orchestration, but also to play and coach my own singers if I do an opera.
You have worked all over the world and with the greatest artists, including Maestro Riccardo Muti. Is there any collaboration or performance you are particularly attached to or proud of?
Speranza Scappucci: I have loved and appreciated working for almost all the institutions in my resume, from Vienna to the Met. I fondly remember my first years at City Opera, Glyndebourne…all of them! The last years in Salzburg, Vienna, and Rome next to Maestro Muti, of course, have been immensely enriching, and it would be difficult to point out just one production!
WM: You’ve recently conducted La Cenerentola (Cinderella) at the Washington National Opera. How would you describe the experience?
Speranza Scappucci: Washington D.C. is an amazing city and the Opera is a great institution. It was a beautiful experience in every aspect, I loved every moment of it: the staff, the singers, the chorus, and the orchestra wonderfully responded to my idea of Rossini and his opera. It was great to make music with them.”
Scappucci conducting career also was mentored under the baton of Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta, Seiji Ozawa, Daniele Gatti, and James Levine. When asked about Scappuccis’ excitement about being one of the first women conductors to perform with the LA Opera and also being a millennial Scappucci says, I’m very proud to be an example for future generations and the fact that more women are on the podium is a very positive thing.” The new generation that LA Opera is cultivating is about to be the new excitement of the classical music industry; especially bringing in new talent such as Nicholas Brownlee, principal role as Colline. Brownlee, grew up in Alabama as a football player then went from football to the opera industry by watching performances in Atlanta and New York; and also joining the church choir.
Brownlee is considered as one of the few bass-baritone’s to win the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council competitions known as the ‘Grand Opera’s answer to ‘American Idol,’ ” said by Peter Gelb, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, describing the organization’s annual National Council Auditions. When speaking to Brownlee about the LA Opera and their goals to bring more millennials into the organization as principal role players in the performances Brownlee stated, “LA Opera is the grand stage to set light to future stars.” In the next three years, LA Opera has already started a flux of new performances that bring a modern twist for my generation to see equipped with modern composers such as John Adams ‘Nixon In China’ and women composers like Kamala Sankaram premiering her opera, Thumbprint. Whichexplores the deep family ties and tribal traditions that empowered Mukhtar Mai to become the first female victim of gang rape to bring her attackers to justice in Pakistan. Although considered as a dying art form. It’s up to the millennial generation to keep music alive by demanding great performance art as an interest but also an investment for future generations. LA Opera and other music houses are doing it; Time for our generation to step up to the plate.